I like to think of the week between Christmas and New Year as being a happy one.
People are full of good cheer and there is optimism in the air as they say goodbye to the past year and welcome a new one.
It is a time for frivolity and fun, for living it up, if only for a while.
One of the most delicious ways to do that is to have these beer popsicles from Harry's. They are good even if beer isn't really your thing.
The bar uses its signature Harry's Premium Lager as a base for the popsicles. You taste the beer most strongly in the plain version. Although it is barely alcoholic, a little bitterness from the beer comes through, making it much more interesting than a sweet treat.
Mango and a slice of strawberry jazz up another version and this one is delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I have two. The beer taste is a lot more muted here, but you get hints of it here and there.
Even better is the Lychee, with a disc of raspberry gel. I confess to loving lychee beer and this popsicle reminds me of it. The berry adds a pop of colour and another fruity note that goes very well with the lager.
Instead of clinking glasses, toast the new year with popsicles.
What could be more fun?
Beer Popsicles, $4.50 each, from Harry's Cuppage Terrace, 17/19 Cuppage Road, Cuppage Terrace, tel: 6836-0706, open: 4pm to 1am (Monday to Thursday), 4pm to 2am (Friday and eve of public holiday), noon to 2am (Saturday), noon to 1am (Sunday)
Pop without alcohol
There is something very festive about the popping of corks. I expect many have popped in the last few days and there will be many more to come.
But what if you are the designated driver, or can't have alcohol for one reason or another?
I spied bottles of sparkling grape juice at Marks & Spencer that provide the pop without the alcohol. Rose Grape and White Grape are bottled like champagne, caged cork and all.
The Rose is made with juice from white and red grapes, including Trebbiano and Tempranillo. The grapes used for the White includes Trebbiano.
Although rather a lot sweeter than champagne, they are bubbly and fun to drink.
Starting the new year without a hangover is never a bad thing.
Sparkling Juice, $8.90 for a 750ml bottle, from Marks & Spencer stores. For the list of stores, go to global.marksandspencer.com/sg/
The monastic town of New Norcia is endlessly fascinating, not least because the bread it produces is so good. They are baked in a wood-fired oven that was installed in the monastery in 1886. So when I see Nut Cake from New Norcia Bakeries in the supermarket, I do a double take and promptly buy one to try.
It is perfect with mulled wine or a glass of port, with feet up after the guests have gone and the dishwashing is done.
This handmade cake, which is also baked in the same oven, is laden with almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, sultanas and raisins, and flavoured with honey, cocoa, citrus peel, cinnamon and pepper. Yet, it is not as heavy as some panforte, fruit cakes and Christmas puddings. Instead, it has a gentle sweetness from honey, the crunch of nuts and all that luscious fruit.
New Norcia Nut Cake, $29.95 for a 325g box, from Hillview Market Place, 02-07 HillV2, 4 Hillview Rise, tel: 6710-7161, open: 10am to 10pm daily
Thin bowls of crisp
Back in the day, I used to enjoy vegetable chips as an alternative to potato or tapioca ones and I have found an updated version.
These Garden Veggie Crisps are flavoured with tomato and spinach and are made not with wheat flour, but with potato flour and starch.
Each one looks like a shallow bowl, making them perfect for dipping. They are thin too, so they won't fill you up too much.
My only quibble with it is that they are a tad salty.
Rein in the salt in the dips and it will work out just fine.
Eatsmart Snacks Sea Salt Garden Veggie crisps, $7.80 for a 170g bag, from Supernature, B1-05/09 Forum The Shopping Mall, tel: 6304-1336, open: 10am to 7.30pm daily
This article was first published on December 28, 2014.
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